The news is starting to make it out about the analytics product AdMob has in beta. Like mentioned before, analytics on mobile is one of those things it’s easy to do poorly and very difficult to do well. Even the folks who have been paying attention to the environment for a long time don’t have clear cut answers about how to deal with thorny issues like carrier identification and user counting. I was hoping that the MMA would get out in front of the crowd on this one and drive some consensus, but that wasn’t to be. So of course I’m happy to see AdMob attempting to bring some sanity to the field. They’re certainly some of the most well positioned to deal with the global issues off-deck publishers have in understanding their mobile audience.
I haven’t been using the service actively for my sites (the main one I would think about using it on would be Mowser, which is ummm.. headed in a different direction these days), but I have sat down with the system and poked through it using other folks data. In my opinion one of the most important set of stats is around number of users over time and how long they stay. How many users do I have in a day? How many of them are returning users vs. new users? What are the “front door” areas of my site that drive new users, and how often do those users visit other areas? Stuff that AdMob has thought through both from the publisher and advertiser perspective and is well represented.
The area I’m most curious about is the device capability breakdown. Custom iPhone sites are relatively common because of the marketing and discussion that goes around that particular device. But I’m not sure that anyone has ever really exposed the additional device segmentation for the off-deck folks. Of the folks that are looking at device breakdown many that I talk to see Nokia N-series devices as the extreme front runners in terms of their total number of pageviews. While the browsers in those devices don’t have the same emotional impact that using Safari on the iPhone does the first time, I do think the devices are successfully driving mobile web usage. Will exposing some of the additional info about devices drive additional middle web style site development? It’s a question not just of device penetration and capability, but of developer mind-share and impact of user interface. There’s a real ecosystem around the iPhone, go to developer events and people are “dabbling in iPhone development”. No one is “dabbling in N-series development.” This is why I’m still an engineer by trade, I just don’t understand how Apple manages to do these things. Much respect.
Stepping up a level however, I would have really liked there to be some public consensus around how to count users and identify uniques – with compliant products following on. But one of the principles I’ve come to understand recently is that it’s easier to build something that works and let standardization form around existing practice than it is to try to drive unity from diverse groups through committee discussion. I’m hoping that what happens is that the practices that AdMob has put into place will drive behavior like the content adaption manifesto Luca put together helped to identify destructive behavior across the environment and correct it. There’s certainly the mass there to make an impact.